Asking military wives what they do during a deployment is as loaded of a question as asking about childbirth. Everyone has an opinion and a strong one at that. Recently, I was reading a very long Facebook thread (remember everyone has an opinion) about this exact topic. Of course, I have an opinion too. Since this is my blog, you are about to hear my opnion. It's a long one, so hold on tight!
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding what to do- in fact the deciding might be the hardest part of the pre-deployment stress. I would like to talk about the two most common remarks posted. One was that women prefer to stay near their military family because they say that their military family was more understanding. The second issue was keeping life consistent (if that's possible) for their kids. I agreed with a lot of the statements and arguements made, but there were a few ideas that peeked my interest. I like to believe the best in everyone and I hope this post will help ease the stress of deployment decisions for wives.
When I am at home and I bump into someone, I always end up saying, "oh we are staying with my parents for a while because my husband is deployed". I hate, hate, hate hearing these two responses:
"It's not that long...."
"It could be worse....."
I understand that, in their hearts, they mean well. They believe that these are words of comfort and hope. They are not. I tell myself these things every-single-day. I know it isn't that long and I know it could be worse. They do not know that. They are not in my shoes and they have no idea about the struggles in my life. Chances are, their babies have never gone more than a week or two without hugs from their dads. Please do not, I repeat, do not say these words. Perhaps it is encounters like this that make us wives squirm at the idea of leaving our military station.
There are words that are nice and comforting. I like to hear things like:
"Thank you for your family's service and sacrifice."
"That's tough, what can I do help you out."
What about the children. There was a lot of talk about keeping life consistent for the kids as a reason to stay at the current duty station. I say, lets be honest with our kids. Life is NOT the same. It's not the same for me and it's not the same for them, when DH is deployed. There is no sense in pretending that it is. Let's accept that life is different and learn to find happiness in it. My children are young, but they understand a great deal. I have faith that they will rise above these challenges and that their lives' experiences will give them wisdom beyond their years.
Let's be kind with our words to everyone- military wives too. I saw a wife post that the deployment was "really a very short one". Why, why say these things? It doesn't feel short when you are trudging through it. Another woman wrote, "you are young, better to get used to it now." I don't like the idea of be miserable now, so you are less miserable later, do you? I have seen wives wear their, "I toughed it out by myself" badge of honor. No thanks there, I don't have anything to prove to anyone. There has got to be a better way.
I believe the way is to speak words of kindness or no words at all. What works for my family, just might not work for your family. Lets do a better job of honoring peoples decisions and supporting them. The final comment I added to the thread was, "Think about what will make you happy. Your children will be happiest if their mom is too." So whatever the decision is, be happy in it. Life is hard enough, lets not make it harder on ourselves or anyone else.
Many blessings to my friends with deployed spouses.
Monday, July 29, 2013
|Exploring the wide open country on our breakfast break.|
With DH deployed, I knew that Mother's Day wasn't going to be anything fantastic. That's just life and that's no big deal. I didn't really know what my Mother's Day would be like. I had planned to come home to visit my family for the summer, but after DH's deployment was moved up significantly, I didn't have any specific date picked. I knew that packing myself, my kids, and my dog into our truck for a 12+ hour drive was going to be a feat. Not to mention the fact that I would have to get the house all taken care of in a state to be left for a few months. This might not sound that challenging to you, but for a single mom with a 1 year old who undoes all your doing, a challenge it is.
I decided to look over the calendar and just pick a day and go for it. I saw that there was a "Give Parents a Break" scheduled for the Saturday before Mother's Day. Give Parents a Break is one of the most beneficial resourses for someone with a deployed spouse, it's my saving grace some months. It's 6 hours of free childcare provided once a month at the child development center on base. I decided this was my answer to how I was going to get it all done. I would pack, clean, and run errands on Saturday while the kids were playing and then Sunday morning (Mother's Day) we would hit the road.
I worked hard to be a prepared momma. I didn't want the trip to be a nightmare. We picked out special snacks and games for the trip. I made and sorted out all 3 meals, packed snacks in little bags, and rounded up road games, and maps to look at. I knew that my 4 year old would be easily entertained with technology, but I try not to rely on that. I want him to look around and experience the beauty of the world and the adventure of the road trip. I was much more concerned about my sweet and sassy little girl. I loaded a bag with little toys I could just keep handing back over the seat and I box of tissues for her to pull out when I was desperate.
Inevitably it was 10:00 pm on Saturday night and everything still wasn't done. My little lady was finally asleep, but LB was still up. I was pretty exhausted from the non-stop day, but my LB was such a trooper. He was tired-eyed, but still happy. He helped me carry the last things into the night and pack them into the truck. My heart was so full to see my happy little helper trucking along. It is one of the happiest moments I have had as a mother. Seeing him help someone else and genuinely care, just melts my heart. It was a small but sweet reasurrance that somewhere along the way he was learning what I was trying to teach him. I was doing something right. My children can grow up to be anything in the entire world that they want (or out of this world- LB is set on being Buzz Light Year), but what I want for them it is to be genuinely good people- that's it. When I saw that unprompted goodness in him, it made my Mother's Day.
After most of the things were loaded, we came inside and he "surprised" me with a cute little card he made a preschool. He gave me the best hug and told me that he loved me. It was the only thing I got for Mother's Day and it was the best.
At 4:30 am I got up finished loading the truck with kids, coolers, and a dog, and we hit the road by 5:00 am. We ate, sang, danced, and even cried our way out of California, across Nevada, through Utah and finally into Idaho. There are moments in life when I doubt my decisions, but as we rolled in the valley where I grew up, I knew in my heart, that I had made the right decision for my little family. It was such a fun Mother's Day with just me and my kids (and I got to see my own mom too). Was it a lot of work? Well yes it was, but so is motherhood. I believe that work and happiness go hand in hand. It wasn't my best Mother's Day, but it was my happiest.
PS: DH pulled through and surprised me with flowers in Idaho. He's a genuinely good person too.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
We're not that different, you and me. For the last week I have thought that hundreds of times. Everyone has something in common. We all want to be loved, accepted, and appreciated. This last week I have felt surprisingly alone and different from everyone else. (Let me tell ya, with DH deployed and my 2 adorable kids, I am never alone- not even a trip to the bathroom).
As some of you know, maybe not too many because the media doesn't report much about lives lost in the military, there have been 3 airplane crashes in the last week in the Middle East. DH flies the same type of air craft that was the first to crash. He was, in fact, flying at the exact same time that the plane went down. Thankfully, he was safe and hopefully able to help get crews to the sight of the crash more quickly. I waited as patiently as I could for the names to be released. I sent and received a few messages from dear military friends saying, "Just wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you and praying for your family." Its a strange thing to do. Of course, I want to show love and support but I don't want to sound like I am searching for information- which I am not. I fully understand and appreciate the importance of families being notified in person. I felt so alone, because I for some reason thought many people would be as concerned as I was.
I now realize that while this event was consuming my time, it wasn't really mentioned in the media, so of course it's hard for people to show support when they know nothing. I fully understand that DH is at war. He is living and flying in a combat zone. So maybe you are wondering why I am so surprised and upset when planes crash and lives are lost. I, like you, operate under the sense that my husband is safe- that at the end of the 6 months he will come home and still be himself. How could I live otherwise? Can you imagine what kind of life it would be to be consumed with worry and fear? My husband worked with these men in the same building. What does your husband do? Lets say he is an attorney. He works with many people at his law firm. Lets say he had a court date and so did another attorney from his office at a different location. If something happened at the other courthouse, and the co-worker never came home, surely your heart would simply be broken. You would morn for the loss of the other family and be so humbled and grateful that your husband had been spared. That's how miliatry wives feel too (well at least this one). Our husbands go to work, leave on deployments, and we absolutely assume that they will come home safe.
My dad called that evening and as we talked he figured that I had been busy with people checking in to see how we are doing and to make sure DH was safe. The answer was no, not busy at all. Only a handful of military friends had made contact with me. That was the part that I didn't understand, how could people not know that I just needed someone to ask if I was okay too. The lesson that I have learned from this is that we are the same- me and you. Just because I show up with a smiling face the next day doesn't mean that I don't need to hear kind words of love. It might feel awkward, but do not let that deter you. Unfortunately another Air Force plane has crashed. You better believe that I went through I list of everyone I knew that had been associated with that air craft and sent them a simple "just thinking of you" message. After all, don't we just want to know that we are loved and appreciated, that the sacrifice my husband and my family makes does not go unnoticed?
My heart and prayers go out to all those military men and women whose lives have been lost serving our country, especially those who were recently killed in action in. They lost their lives, and their loved ones lost the life they once knew.
|Capt Cyr's Dignified Transer via AFMAO website|
If you would like to read more about our service men and women who gave all, here are a few links:
The Department of Defense Official News Releases- This website lists the names of causualties from all branches of service
Information about the crew of the KC-135 Crash
Photos from the MC-12 Memorial
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The first time I read this quote I was in Graduate School. I was dreading my days. I was waking up early to make the commute to school and getting home late and exhausted. I didn't love the program and I didn't love my major professor. I had so much experience from my undergrad, I felt like grad school wasn't as challenging and that my professor just didn't have confidence in me. When I read this quote it just hit my soul. I was not happy spending my days in dread. Sneaking out the back stairs so that I didn't have to walk past his office is well, immature and really sad.
After much debate and fear, I talked with my professor and told him I would not be returning for the following semester. I was walking away from an assistantship that was paying for my tuition and my even paying me for my work. I felt disappointed in myself for quitting. The worst part was that I quite with no where else to go- no other job, no grand plans. I just knew that I wasn't happy and I didn't want my days to add up to a life of unhappiness. I feel blessed that I was brave enough to do what I needed to do to be happy. Sometimes doing what makes us happy is the hardest thing.
Our last days together as a family were not carefully orchestrated. There was no time for the special plans we had made now. DH was not deployable. So instead of spending time together doing special activites, DH hacked away at his check list. One night we stayed up late working on our wills. Another night it was a lesson in banking and bill paying. Because we only had such a short amount of time to prepare, we didn't dwell on daddy's departure much with the kids. (We had mentioned earlier to LB that daddy would be leaving for a long time to fly his plane). Instead we went about our lives just like we always do. We went to play groups, ran errands, and followed our routines.
Our little family did manage to take a quick road trip right before DH left- something that isn't too out of the ordinary for us. As we were driving down beautiful Highway 1 in Northern California, the quote returned to my always busy mind. I actually chuckled out loud as the quote came back to me. We were spending our days just as we always do. In that moment I felt so blessed. My life is so sweet and full that we did not have to do anything amazing and grand. What we do everyday, was indeed, the best way to spend out last days together. This time the quote was a comfort and a reassurance. I am spending my days filled with family, work, laughter, and dedication. Although it is not grand, this is indeed how I want to spend my life and how blessed am I that we are on the right track.
PS we did manage to have a special celebration with DH before he left. We had a cupcake made for every major celebration he would miss out on. The kids loved- I think we all did.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I am back! I wish I could say and better than ever, but a girl's gotta be realistic right. Things sure have changed since I last blogged, it has been YEARS after all. Let's see- my little family added a sweet little girl, we moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, DH flies a new plane and is currently deployed. My dear friend Libby welcomed her sweet little boy while her DH was deployed. They have since moved back to the States are have separated from the military. That's right folks, they just plan old civilians now.
Instead of frantically trying to play catch up, I am going to pick up like we didn't miss a beat. (Although I did in fact miss you and spent lots of hours thinking about blogs, but never managed to write them down.) So lets get right to the title of my post. I came across this thought a little bit ago and it just stuck with me. I have been trying to get myself and my family on a healthier path. I think one of the hardest things in life is starting-starting to exercise, starting to eat better, starting to prepare for a deployment. Its hard to take the leap of faith or make the commitment to ourselves or our families.
DH was scheduled for a 6 month deployment this summer. We began to talk about plans and ask for suggestions from friends, but we hadn't actually accomplishing things. Then, BAM, with the click of an email we had 2 weeks notice that DH was headed out. Blah- so much for heading into our 1st deployment prepared. Today the path might seem hard and long, we might be dragging our feet start the journey, but we never ever know what new challenges will be waiting for us tomorrow. We never know how much time we will get to prepare or to accomplish our goals. What ever it is that you want in your heart- start today, start right now!
Hope you will read along and I write (maybe vent a little too) about the challenges and blessings of our first deployment. I took this photo in the Coast Redwoods in California.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
DH just made captain! That means we have 4 years of military life under our belt (plus a few more during ROTC in college). I was feeling pretty accomplished that we have made it this far. I think 4 years is a pretty long time. There were definitely some rough, rough times. Times when I wasn't sure if our marriage (mostly me) could handle the stress, the separation, the single parenting and the loneliness.
You might not agree with this, but I feel like the military spouse gets more of the "bad" part of military life without as much "good". Another way to put it is that we have the "guts" but don't get the "glory". We put up with the lifestyle, but I don't get the promotion or instant friends when we move or the chance to travel all over the world flying an amazing aircraft. This has been a real struggle for me, but somehow we have over come these challenges and I can honestly say that we are happy and feel blessed. It's a good thing we have reached this point, because we still have 8 years left until DH's commitment is up. Hmm... maybe 4 years doesn't seem like that long after all. Isn't it funny how it is so easy to let something good and exciting be overshadowed by other things.
I am so happy that DH works hard to provide for our family and that he loves (most days) his job. We are happy to have a captain in the house! Now we just have to figure out what's going on with the promotion party. Any ideas, tips, traditions, or suggestions about promotion parties you want to share? I would LOVE to hear them.